Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The best idea for a Tampa Bay Rays stadium might be a joint effort

Here's what we do. We dredge up a new island smack in the middle of Tampa Bay. We run an exit ramp to it off the Howard Frankland Bridge.

And there's where we build a new baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays, with both the Hillsborough and Pinellas sides chipping in.

Heck, this should cost only a couple of billion extra. Maybe we can get the feds to call it a "stimulus" project.

Don't like the island scheme? Okay, here's Plan B.

We settle on the best spot in Pinellas County for a new stadium, and the best spot in Hillsborough. Again, both sides sign a deal in advance saying they will chip in.

Then we meet in the middle of the Howard Frankland — and flip a coin.

Both of these fantasies involve a multicounty effort. Heck, why stop there? Let's get some dough from Pasco, Hernando, Manatee and Sarasota, too.

If that sounds crazy, well, it's only crazy by Tampa Bay standards. That kind of regional cooperation is normal in some places.

Why shouldn't it be? Sports teams have regional identity. They provide regional benefits. A team's fan base doesn't stop at a county line.

But here, we go it alone. Raymond James Stadium or the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa are "ours" (if you live in Hillsborough) and Tropicana Field is "theirs." Or vice versa. I didn't hear many people in Pinellas crying out to help pay for a Bucs stadium or a Lightning arena, nor many in Tampa for baseball in St. Petersburg.

If we build a stadium at all, the main issues of course are: (1) Where? (2) Who pays for it?

A couple of things happened last week that fired up this discussion. The first was lackluster attendance at what was expected to be a marquee showdown between the Rays and their rivals in last year's World Series, the Philadelphia Phillies.

In a rare shot across the public's bow, the Rays pronounced themselves "bewildered" at the lukewarm showing. Critics crowed that it was proof St. Petersburg is not "a baseball city" and the team should be moved to Tampa.

I dunno. The top AL East rivals draw pretty well, don't they? Maybe the World Series rematch just didn't have the allure the Rays had hoped for. Overall attendance is up 23 percent for the year so far; doesn't that count?

As if on cue, the Phillies series was followed by the news that the private-sector committee studying a new stadium, A Baseball Community, is considering three sites in Hillsborough as well as downtown St. Petersburg and mid Pinellas.

So, what happens if the group recommends a site outside of St. Petersburg? Will that city vow to fight? If the site is in mid Pinellas, will the county rush to foot the bill? If it's Hillsborough, will the city and county leaders there eagerly embrace the idea of being on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars?

I still think that this process will, by default, result either in a mid Pinellas site, more easily accessible to Hillsborough, or will end up back in downtown St. Petersburg. But under our go-it-alone model, the people of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County will bear all the financial burden again for a regional sports franchise — unless Tampa and Hillsborough, just because they are such nice guys, offer to chip in anyway. Riiight.

That island in the middle of the bay is starting to look better.

The best idea for a Tampa Bay Rays stadium might be a joint effort 06/27/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 4:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.